Friday, 11 May 2012


(Oh OK, I fibbed about the tightrope...)
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday the week before last - four reading/nattering/teaching appointments - and interesting for the differences, and similarities. 
Pic by Sarah Salway
On the Wednesday, I gave a short talk and reading at an event for writers in Eastbourne, organised by writer and life guru Brigitte Sumner. this was  a first - why wasn’t writing and reading part of this town’s celebration? Good for her. Bring it on, I say! Waterstones supported, and brought a whole pile of books.
A lot of organisation had gone into the event, and the line-up was broad-ranging and inclusive.  However - It hadn’t been well-publicised by the festival, sadly, so didn’t seem that well supported, although things might have picked up after my stint - the first, from 1 to 2 pm. I had an audience of ...well - I had an audience! Sales, - none!
The venue, an open-plan sports clubhouse, was not ideal, to be honest.  Open to the tea hatch with constant nattering and coming and going, and only divided from the bookselling and public meeting area and the doors, by a low divider.
Still - it’s a start, and I take my hat off to Brigitte and her team for doing this, and for inviting me to come along. I was delighted to do so, didn’t charge and they paid my travel costs. Thanks all!

On the Thursday, an invitation to teach at Wellington College. A long train journey, a meet-up at Blackwater station with the Headmaster’s wife - a friend, and this...
Photo of Wellington College from Newman Family Tree website
Gorgeous! The English Dept is hidden away in the woodland, and we met up with eight eager students ranging from 14 to 17 years of age, most of the creative writing group - two were ill and couldn’t make it. One hour, eight sparky hungry minds! Word cricket first, and in fifteen minues, of the eight, six had stories or part-stories to work on later. Then a fab exercise first aired in Tania and Vanessa’s Art and Science StoryGym last Saturday - lines of Yeats plus incomprehensible scientific jargon equals... well. Great results! Much natter about listening to our own processes, being aware of how writing ‘feels’. And the delighted feedback "I've never written anything like this...!" was wonderful.
Wellington is famed for its extra-curricular life. So - a reception for the writers and a few teachers, followed by a candle-lit dinner at the Master’s Lodge (some lodge - palace??) and Cam, a charming sixteen year old read out a short piece from my next novel - extraordinary experience for me. 

Then, Friday, I was here..
that’s right, on the phone. I was in my sitting room, being one end of a masterclass on writing competitions, for  Suzy Greaves School of Writing.  - although actually the discussion ranged widely. 

Pic from Jerwood Space website

And Saturday - something I had been looking forward to for a long time - my workshop for Spread The Word, in London, ‘Competition-Fit Fiction’ - now there’s a challenge!  This took place in a very modern room at the very top of the Jerwood Space in London. The workshop was a sell-out, and some very focussed and interesting participants learned as much as I could tell them about what goes on behind the scenes at the best comps, how to maximise your chances of catching the eye of the readers in the best way possible, and which competitions are to be avoided! 

Four very different places - a sports hut, a top public school, a telephone and a snazzy space in London - but no difference in using them all as places to share this thing I love doing! 


  1. Busy, busy. It's amazing how events differ completely and you have to adjust yourself to fit. Sounds like you did great and had fun, V.

  2. What a whirlwind! I should take one of your competition workshops. I've all but given up on those....

  3. I did have fun, N. At all of them, I much enjoyed meself, and earned some much-needed dosh as well.
    In the end, all the advice one can give is to free up, and write engaging, well-written, interesting stories. Easy!